I have had alopecia since I was about 8 years old. It began with bald patches that would come and go, something the school bullies loved to use as ammunition. It wasn't until I turned 16 that my hair fell out completely, I recall being incredibly grateful that I had finished school by the time. I have remained hairless to this day.

My parents tried all sorts to help me, they took me to endless doctors’ appointments, rubbed creams and oils into my scalp, and eventually bought me my first wig - plus many more after! There was a wig stand at the local shopping centre, nothing more than a kiosk displaying a few pieces and the only place to try them on privately was in a fire exit hallway.

I was so self-conscious up until my early 20s. I used to be frightened that people would know I was wearing a wig, and I'd be terrified someone would try to take it off my head. I don't know how it happened but one day I kind of just... stopped caring. I started telling everyone I met that I had alopecia. I hoped they would ask me questions – some would. Some would be amazed and tell me they had no clue, others would shy from the subject. I used to think that people were looking at me and wondering what was “off”. Was it my lack of eyebrows or eyelashes? Was it obvious I had a wig on? I think that by telling people about my condition it made me feel in control, as they'd no longer be guessing what was going on.

I'm 34 now and completely accepting of my hair loss, and as I work in construction I very rarely wear wigs – wigs and hard hats do not mix! I pretty much live in bandanas and baggy hats. Despite this, I have quite a sizeable wig collection which is pretty much just for when I visit nice places. I consider wigs a fashion accessory, something to be matched with my outfit and makeup. I love having different styles and colours, and spend an unhealthy amount of time online looking at wig review videos.

I must admit, I hate wearing bandanas. They have no volume to them, so I feel it’s obvious I have no hair under there. And while I am comfortable with my alopecia, I can't help but feel a little bit scary looking when I'm at work. Here we have a female groundworker, wearing cement-stained clothing and ill-fitting PPE meant for men, a hard hat and unflattering headwear, plus my scratched-up glasses. No, it's not a pretty sight, but I am not thinking about winning a beauty contest whilst I'm operating an excavator or driving up heaps in a dump truck.

I won't lie, I enjoy every opportunity I get to glam myself up. I go from looking like I belong in a swamp to a regular, civilised person, as though a fairy godmother has swished her wand and transformed me. It's all thanks to the power of wigs (and some eyeliner of course).

It's taken me a lot of years to be able to say, “I am what I am”. I'm still a person, whether I've got a head full of hair or not. I am a construction worker; I am a crazy cat lady with 4 cats to serve. I like to ride my mountain bike on muddy trails. I enjoy cooking, travelling and dancing. I love my friends and family, and last year I became a volunteer with AUK – a story I will share another time!

My hair doesn't define me, I do.